Tomato, Spinach & Bacon Orzo
This tomato, spinach & bacon orzo is super hearty and loaded with so much flavour!
This makes the perfect dinner for a few different reasons, but the main reason is that it’s so darn delicious. You get a gorgeous burst of tomato flavour, but it’s also nice & creamy at the same time. Then with the smokiness from the bacon, it’s all just a heck of a good time 🤤 Follow me…
One Pot Tomato Bacon Orzo
You’ll want to kick off the recipe by frying the bacon. I typically keep the bacon whole at the start, remove it and dice later (much easier to slice cooked bacon than it is to slice raw bacon!). This way the bacon can keep a little bit of texture, instead of cooking with the sauce and turning soft.
What kind of bacon should I use?
I recommend using streaky bacon. Reason being is you can then render down all the fat and use it to fry the onion and garlic. Not a huge issue if you’ve only got regular bacon. I usually go for unsmoked bacon, but if you prefer smoked then go for that!
Starting low ‘n’ slow
I recommend adding the bacon to the pan with the heat off, then turning it to a medium. This way you can render down the fat without burning the meat. Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat – you need to work for that liquid gold!
Process shots: add bacon to pan (photo 1), fry then remove (photo 2), fry onion (photo 3), fry garlic (photo 4), fry tomato puree (photo 5), add orzo (photo 6).
Tomato Orzo with Spinach
Once you’ve added the orzo, you can go straight in with the stock and cook the orzo in the same pan. This, in my opinion, is a far superior method to cooking the orzo separately for a few different reasons:
- Starch – The orzo will release its starch, which helps bind/thicken the sauce and turn it a little creamy.
- Flavour – The orzo will soak in all the gorgeous flavours of the sauce as it cooks.
- Ease – Less washing up!
Creamy tomato orzo
The sauce will already be a little creamy from the orzo, but just to take things to the next level I love adding mascarpone! You’ll want to stir this in at the end to help thicken the sauce and turn it outrageously creamy.
It’ll seem like you’re adding way too much at the start, but it wilts down a lot. I keep the spinach whole, but you can roughly dice it if you’d prefer.
Process shots: add stock and sun dried tomatoes (photo 7), simmer (photo 8), stir in mascarpone (photo 9), add basil and spinach (photo 10), stir (photo 11), stir in bacon and parmesan (photo 12).
Serving Tomato Bacon Spinach Orzo
The orzo should end up with a risotto-style consistency. If at any point the sauce thickens too much, just stir in a splash of water or stock. To serve, you can sprinkle over any leftover basil and parmesan you’ve got lurking around (completely optional).
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this tomato bacon spinach orzo shall we?!
How to make Tomato, Bacon & Spinach Orzo (Full Recipe & Video)
Tomato, Spinach & Bacon Orzo
Large Deep Pan & Wooden Spoon
Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Jug (for stock)
Fine Cheese Grater (for parmesan)
- 2 cups / 400g uncooked Orzo
- 8 slices of Streaky Bacon (125g/4oz total)
- 4 1/2 cups / 1.1L Chicken Stock
- 1 cup / 125g Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced
- 1/3 cup / 90g Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 5oz / 150g Mascarpone
- 3.5oz / 100g Baby Spinach
- 1/4 cup / 20g freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve if desired
- 1/2 small bunch of Fresh Basil, plus more to serve if desired (0.5oz/15g)
- 1 medium Red Onion, finely diced (sub white onion)
- 3 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to spice preference
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
Add the bacon to a large deep pan with the heat off. Turn heat to medium and fry until the bacon is crisp with the fat rendered down. Remove the bacon and leave the fat behind. Add the onion to the leftover fat and fry until it begins to soften and pick up colour, then add in the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
Add the tomato puree and fry it off for a minute or so, then stir in the orzo until completely coated. Stir in all of the chicken stock, then add in the sun dried tomatoes and chilli flakes. Keep a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the orzo is al dente (mostly cooked but still a teeny bit hard). Stir regularly to avoid the orzo sticking to the pan.
Add the mascarpone and stir until fully blended, then stir in the spinach and basil until the spinach softens and wilts. Once the spinach has wilted, dice the bacon and stir it through alongside the parmesan. If the sauce reduces too much and the orzo is looking a little thick at any point, just stir in a splash of hot stock or water to loosen it up again.
Check for seasoning and adjust if needed, then serve up with more parmesan and basil if desired.
b) Make Ahead / Storage – I don’t recommend purposefully making it ahead of time, but if you have leftovers just allow them to completely cool, then tightly store in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat over low heat on the stove with a splash of water to loosen it up until piping hot again.
c) Spinach – It will seem like way too much spinach at the beginning, but it completely wilts down. I don’t chop it, but you can if you’d prefer. You can also remove and aggressively large stalks.
d) Calories – Whole recipe divided by 4 with no extra parmesan.
For more similar recipes check out these beauties:
- Garlic Parmesan Sausage Orzo
- Spanish Chicken Orzo
- Creamy Mushroom Orzo
- Chicken Meatballs & Orzo
- Lemon Chicken Orzo
- Garlic Butter Prawn Orzo
This tomato, spinach & bacon orzo is super hearty and loaded with so much flavour! This makes the perfect dinner for a few different reasons, but the main reason is that it’s so darn delicious. You get a gorgeous burst of tomato flavour, but it’s also nice & creamy at the same time. Then with…